7 Business Leaders Worth Looking Up To


Every young entrepreneur needs an example to look up to–someone whose story resonates with your own and inspires you to reach even greater heights. Whether it’s a personal encounter with Jack Welch or reading a biography of Steve Jobs, you can find inspiration from multiple sources.

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, this question:

“Who is one well-known business leader over the age of 40 that you look to for advice on running your small business? Why do they resonate with you?”

Here are some of the leaders the YEC members look up to:

1. Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines

Herb Kelleher“Like many businesses, Southwest Airlines was born on a cocktail napkin, but it took a lot of perseverance to actually take flight. Numerous Texas airlines tried to keep Southwest grounded with lawsuits in its first years of business, but Kelleher was steadfast and fought through. Today Southwest is one of the only profitable airlines [in the U.S.] because it refuses to accept the status quo.” ~ Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees

2. Jack Welch

Jack Welch“I personally resonate with Jack Welch because I admire his ability to lead and manage people. He believes that winning individuals and organizations create jobs, galvanize growth and give back to society. I had the pleasure of meeting him. He shook my hand, looked me in the eye and remembered my name. Named the CEO of the century, his management skills are unparalleled.” ~ Lucas Sommer, Audimated

3. Aaron Strout

Aaron Strout“Aaron has been part of my professional and personal life since we met at SXSW in 2009. He’s done a lot in his marketing career, from big brands to startup digital agencies. His advice resonates with me because he’s one of my mentors and despite the fact that my path has changed from when we first met, he isn’t trying to shape me into a mini-Aaron. Though that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.” ~ Sydney Owen, 3Ring Media

4. Richard Branson

Richard Branson“I read his book and love what he did. He created an enterprise that was built on a lifestyle brand versus a specific industry. This allowed him to expand anywhere because he had a big vision. I like having a big vision, as there is a lot to accomplish in this world. I also admire his ability to be well rounded.” ~ David Schnurman, Lawline

5. Barbara Corcoran

Barbara Corcoran“I’ve read Barbara’s book Use What You’ve Got and I keep going back to it because there are so many juicy and wise words of advice there. I resonate with her because she is self-made and tells it like it is. She’s also got a great sense of humor and makes doing business fun!” ~ Nath Lussier, Nathalie Lussier Media

6. Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy“Working in direct-response marketing and helping others build their own businesses is the business that I have found myself in, and no one has done that better, longer and within more industries than Dan Kennedy. From his bestselling books to his live events and masterminds, he finds ways to connect with me and my team that have exponentially grown our business and expanded my mind.” ~ Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

7. Who’s Next?

business questions“I look to many older business leaders for advice as there is always an area of business to improve. Rather than looking to one person, I turn to many people, and usually to the person who has successfully navigated through the issue I am having at the time. This allows me to find the exact experience of the person who has been there and done that, rather than taking advice from someone who hasn’t.” ~ Louis Lautman, Young Entrepreneur Society

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The Young Entrepreneur Council


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

3 Reactions

  1. Great post!

    Southwest. What is it about that brand? Do we like it because they just want to have fun?

    (If you’ve never been on a SW flight-do it.)

    The Franchise King®

  2. Not sure how David Schnurman’s comment really speaks about Branson. He does way more than just build an enterprise around his lifestyle…he actually has a much larger vision for need regarding his lifestyle. Schnurman’s are a disapointing

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